On October 2, 2014, Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, passed the House of Commons, and proceeded to a first reading in the Senate. The legislation, which has been described by some as perhaps the most sweeping changes in intellectual property rights law in Canada in over 70 years, is intended to give trademark and copyright owners additional options for dealing with the importation and sale of counterfeit goods.
Following passage of the bill with support from all parties (though not without some outspoken criticism), Industry Minister James Moore issued a statement saying that it “will give our border guards the tools they need to work with Canadian rights holders to stop illegal counterfeit goods from entering the country.”
Specifically, the legislation includes provisions that will:
- create new civil causes of action with respect to activities that sustain commercial activity in infringing copies and counterfeit trademarked goods;
- create new criminal offences for trademark counterfeiting that are analogous to existing offences in the Copyright Act;
- create new criminal offences prohibiting the possession or export of infringing copies or counterfeit trademarked goods, packaging or labels;
- enact new border enforcement measures enabling customs officers to detain goods that they suspect infringe copyright or trademark rights and allowing them to share information relating to the detained goods with rights owners who have filed a request for assistance, in order to give the rights owners a reasonable opportunity to pursue a remedy in court;
- exempt the importation and exportation of copies and goods by an individual for their personal use from the application of the border measures; and
- add the offences set out in the Copyright Act and the Trademarks Act to the list of offences set out in the Criminal Code for the investigation of which police may seek judicial authorization to use a wiretap.
Counterfeits worldwide are now an estimated $650 billion a year problem and counterfeits in Canada have been a growing health and safety problem. According to the official press release, “Canadians are now one step closer to having a modern, effective protection regime at our borders.”